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Future Planetary Exploration
vjkane
post Nov 9 2010, 06:28 PM
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Check out my blog, FuturePlanets for a table comparing the concepts for cost and mission schedules.


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ngunn
post Dec 3 2010, 11:08 PM
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I've often wondered why the electronics on spacecraft have to be pampered in an earthlike environment. It's a topic very far from my limited knowlege but one that interests me a lot. This article seems to herald good things for the future. (I say: Bring on the Venus-hardy variety and let's have long-lived surface rovers.)

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Silicon_...ations_999.html
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hendric
post Dec 7 2010, 09:52 PM
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Well, for your average iPad, a fatal ESD event isn't that big a deal. Even non-fatal events can do fun things like shorten lifespan or increase current consumption. For a multi billion dollar spacecraft, those would be catastrophic. And don't forget, "pampered" for spacecraft still means going through a shake table and a real launch!


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ngunn
post Dec 7 2010, 11:22 PM
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When I used the word 'pampered' there I was really thinking about operating temperature and the fact that the bulk of our expertise in electronics has been developed to cope with 'room temperature' conditions. For a spacecraft working elsewhere in the solar system having to have the electronics at a comfortable human temperature can be a big handicap so it would be good if that constraint could be overcome. I would like to see Titan rovers that don't have to be heated and Venus rovers that don't have to be cooled. I appreciate that there are other severe demands on space electronics besides extreme temperatures.

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ZLD
post Dec 8 2010, 12:41 AM
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They most definitely take into account the operating temperatures for spacecraft. If this were not the case, the Voyager probes would have long since been decommissioned and lost forever. A more recent example is the James Webb Space Telescope. Heres an article talking a little about how they condition spacecrafts for use in extreme temperatures. They have facilities for testing in extremely hot zones, cold zones, very high pressure, vacuums, radiation intensive and many other obstacles that spacecraft face while in space. They most definitely do not build them to a specification that would only be acceptable for Earth use because you would get exactly what you would expect: space trash.

This is where the forefront of NASA's leading edge comes in. They have invented so many absolutely awesome materials that are so far advanced that stuff invented in the 60s and 70s is still only starting to hit the commercial market. Expect to see a Venus rover sometime in the next decade and maybe a Titan rover will come within the next 20 years. The reason that it takes so long is because no one has ever done anything like it and everything has to be invented from scratch.

It is amazing how far we have gone when you realize that, just 54 years ago, a rocket hadn't even left this planet yet. The future holds a lot of potential. smile.gif
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djellison
post Dec 8 2010, 12:53 AM
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I'm afraid your Venus rover in a decade and titan rover in 20 years are both far too optimistic. For either of those to be true - we would be seeing them in this decedal survey manifest of proposals - and we don't. moreover, the technical readiness for either simply isn't there. I'm afraid you're probably going to have to double those figures.
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stevesliva
post Dec 8 2010, 02:22 AM
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Incidentally the IBM SiGe process that Georgia Tech characterized at extreme temperatures in the article above was developed to make high performance transceiver chips. Very popular with GPS, cell phones, etc. It's not a NASA spin-off, it's a consumer spin-off. The process is more expensive than the standard processes used to make microprocessors and most consumer chips. A typical SiGe chip is very small and has just the RF stuff on it, so it's combined on a circuit board with all the other more vanilla process chips. They make only the small chunk of circuitry they need for high frequency RF with SiGe.

What seems to have been done is what NASA/the government are good at... doing research in the niches that private industry simply can't be bothered with. Why didn't they know this rather mature process had good low temperature performance? No one had yet paid to figure it out. A few million bucks later, it turns out things are still working pretty good at -180C.

The automotive industry just might push the standard temperature range higher. I've heard of them wanting chips working at pretty damn high temperatures since they're everywhere in cars now. But the market for chips that work below -55C is absolutely minimal. It's neat that SiGe appears to be pretty reliable to very low temps. Now they just have to work on the circuit boards.
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ZLD
post Dec 8 2010, 02:57 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Dec 8 2010, 01:53 AM) *
we would be seeing them in this decedal survey manifest of proposals - and we don't. moreover, the technical readiness for either simply isn't there.


What?

It's my understanding that most of this proposal is possible now, with funding. Obviously some serious testing would still need to be done but accepting the plan is all that is needed to move forward.

Just in case you don't have access to the draft, I've included it below.
Attached File  Venus_surface_power_and_cooling_systems.pdf ( 650.64K ) Number of downloads: 3453
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djellison
post Dec 8 2010, 07:43 AM
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These are proposals, ideas, a wish list.

There are no Venus rovers currently planned or funded.

A Venus 'in situ' explorer is proposed as one of three finalists for the New Frontiers program - but it is not a rover.
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hendric
post Dec 8 2010, 02:47 PM
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I'm hoping the research here pans out

http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/SiC/

It would be great for a Venus rover, or even a Venus lander. Powering it and connecting to it would be interesting. Hell, maybe we'll have to launch a Venus lander/rover in a giant OVEN to keep it warm enough to operate!

But I agree... 10 years? I'd be surprised if we see anything other than paper rovers and landers for the next 25.


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machi
post Dec 8 2010, 05:02 PM
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Price of Venus mobile explorer is estimated around 10 billion dollars. This is simply too much for any space agency.
Look here: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/SSB/SSB_059331
Another problem is shortcoming of plutonium.


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Hungry4info
post Dec 8 2010, 05:25 PM
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What about Venera D? I was under the impression it had moved past the concept stage.


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machi
post Dec 8 2010, 06:19 PM
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Venera D isn't surface mobile explorer. Project Venera D consist of unmobile lander, orbiter, high altitude balloon(s) and maybe small dropping probes.


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Hungry4info
post Dec 8 2010, 07:04 PM
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Ah, understood. For some reason I was thinking it had an inflatable balloon to hop with.
Nevermind. Thanks.


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ZLD
post Dec 8 2010, 07:34 PM
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QUOTE (machi @ Dec 8 2010, 06:02 PM) *
Price of Venus mobile explorer is estimated around 10 billion dollars.


Interesting, I hadn't yet heard about this proposal.

A slight correction, though it doesn't change the necessary cost feasibility:

QUOTE
Based on the Price H model and cost analogies during this 5-week study, we estimated at 70% confidence level the VME mission concept total cost of $1.1B to $1.7B (without launch vehicle; $1.9B with launch vehicle). This is beyond the New Frontiers cost limit (assumed to be $750M FY15), but in the low end of the flagship range. Technology-development costs of $90M (to bring new technology to a TRL 6 level) are included in the above mission cost estimate. A tremendous amount of uncertainty exists in the technology development cost, due to the immature nature of most of the essential technologies and unique testing which may not perform as assumed in this report.


So ~$2bn instead but the price is still too high for a mission. They also note in the in the trade tree that wheels, as would be on a Venus rover, introduces too many complexities and a helium balloon-like transfer is instead preferred. I'm a little puzzled by that with as much research as has gone into the four Mars rovers but I'm sure there is a more detailed reason. Regardless, I stand corrected, it likely isn't to happen in the next decade.

A mission I'm quite interested in is a flying drone observer sent to Mars. I can't find the name of the proposal but I was puzzled at the time that they claimed it would be powered by batteries and only last a couple of hours. Meanwhile the Solar Impulse team were releasing news about their first trip around the globe with a successful trip through a full night. I'm very hopeful to see these two technologies joined at some point. What better way to take a lot of data quickly over a vast area than from an aerial vehicle. Among other things, it would allow study of Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, two very interesting geologic locations that are unlikely to be explored by rovers.

Edit: ARES Platform
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